(From Vice News) The Islamic State has released a new video showing more than 100 recruits undergoing a series of rigorous training exercises at a camp in northern Iraq.
The six-minute-long video comes as the US-led coalition steps-up airstrikes against Islamic State militant bases, including training camps, in Iraq and Syria. It is the latest in a series of multimedia releases from the group, and clearly touts its possession of US equipment and weapons.
Titled “Blood of Jihad,” the video features recruits clad in white lined up in a dusty field in Ninewa province in front of tents clearly marked “US.” The trainers and recruits each carry weapons, which appear to be either AK-47s, RPGs, or PK machine guns.
Recruits are tested on hand-to-hand-combat skills, and shown waiting patiently in line to receive a kick to the stomach. One fighter demonstrates his proficiency at field stripping an AK-47, while others learn how to extract wounded fighters from the battlefield under fire.
The promotion of militant infrastructure and training has been ongoing since the group began its bloodied territorial advance across Iraq and Syria this summer.
Earlier this month, the Islamic State released photos of another training camp in Kirkuk, Iraq, depicting graduating fighters from Shaykh Abu Omar al Baghdadi camp, named after the group’s former leader and founder in Iraq. In July, a number of photos released showed a training camp in Ninewa provice, while in May the Islamic State confirmed the existence of Zarqawi Camp located outside Syria’s capital of Damascus, according to Long War Journal.
At least five training camps have been hit by coalition airstrikes since the US began its air campaign against the organization in Iraq in early August. Those camps were targeted in Raqqa, Abu Kamal, Dier al Zour, and Hasakah on September 22; Manjib on September 29; and another in Raqqa on October 3.
The Islamic State has also been active in promoting its some estimated 10,000 western recruits, a number of them American. Sunday, there were reports on social media that one of those recruits had been killed by Kurdish fighters in Kobani, a strategic town along the Syrian-Turkish border, which militants have been fighting to overtake for three weeks.
On Friday, the Islamic State publicly executed an Iraqi journalist and three civilians in northern Iraq. According to Al Jazeera, which cited confirmation of the incident from relatives of the deceased, the militants shot cameraman Raad al-Azzawi, 37, his brother, and two other civilians in a village east of Tikrit. The watchdog group Reporters Without Borders said Azzawi, a father of three, was detained by the group September 7 after he refused to work for them.
The jihadists have executed several international journalists and aid workers in recent weeks, and are currently holding captive 26-year-old US citizen Abdul-Rahman Kassig, formerly known as Peter Kassig. A former US military serviceman in Iraq who was captured doing humanitarian work in Syria, Kassig’s family has publicly pleaded with the Islamic State to spare his life. He was threatened at the end of a recent IS video showing the beheading of British aid worker Alan Henning.